Cardinals-Cubs: Ending On A Down Note

Daniel ShoptawAnalyst IApril 27, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 23: Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits an RBI single against the New York Mets on April 23, 2009 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cardinals beat the Mets 12-8.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

There are two games I need to write about; one was great, the other not so much.

Depends on your perspective which was which, but most of you are Cardinal fans, so it's safe to say Saturday was a blast and Sunday was a day to turn off the game early.

Saturday, anything else that happened was overshadowed by one swing of Albert Pujols's bat.

One of the best parts of that slam? Check out the reaction of the Cubs' catcher as soon as AP puts the ball into orbit. It was almost like "Why do we bother?"

While that was the biggest thing to come out of Saturday, there were other highlights. Mitchell Boggs did a little better job as a Chris Carpenter substitute than P.J. Walters did on his first attempt; getting into the sixth with no earned runs is the best way to keep your slot in the rotation, and Boggs is starting again on Thursday.

Khalil Greene had two hits, including a double, and Brian Barden continued to make me look silly for bashing him earlier by tallying three hits.

And while he only had one hit, Colby Rasmus did a good job of not being too aggressive with two on and two out, drawing the walk that helped set up the grand slam.

Now, after a game like that, you hate to put a Goat up, but every game has to have one.

Blaine Boyer's Cardinal debut wasn't anything exciting, as he gave up an unearned run in his outing, and Chris Duncan went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, though he did draw a walk. But the title goes to Brendan Ryan, who was 0-for-4 from the leadoff slot.

Probably the less said about Sunday's game, the better. I know the Cards won two out of three against the Cubbies, and you are greedy if you expect more, but this was such a terrible game from the start.

You know that if Rich Harden is on, getting three runs is going to be tough, so you are in for it from the very beginning. The Cards had won nine in a row at home, were going for the perfect homestand, and then the bottom falls out.

Yadier Molina continued his hot hitting and was the only Cardinal with two hits in the game, including a home run that got the Redbirds on the board. Couple that with his defense and there's no way, at least right now, he's not representing the Cardinals at the All-Star Game, is there?

But other than Yadi, Rick Ankiel's bomb, and maybe Pujols's three walks and HBP (that really wasn't necessarily, in my book, though the manager didn't have a big beef with it), there wasn't much positive going on.

Which means coming up with a Goat is at least easier from the point of view that there are plenty of options.

Todd Wellemeyer has a lot of people concerned right now. He seemed to come back at the end of his outing and started looking better, but we thought that after his strong Arizona start as well. The Cardinals really need him in last year's form, especially with Carpenter out. If he gets on a roll, this rotation is so much more dangerous.

However, I think the Goat of Sunday really goes to Khalil Greene. No hits in four trips and an error that allowed runs to score made for a day he was hoping for. Such a performance leaves one wondering exactly where the slick-fielding Greene is, since he now has five errors and leads the league.

Still, the Cardinals wrap up the third week of the season leading the NL Central with a 13-6 mark. Tony LaRussa has to get a good chunk of the credit, as his mixing and matching plus his managerial style seem to be getting everything possible out of the players on the roster.

It was expected that April would be the toughest part of the early schedule and that May would be where the team could kick in the jets. When you look at the teams on the schedule in the coming month (Washington, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Cinncinati, Milwaukee, Kansas City, San Francisco), there's not a whole lot of reason to think that that prediction will be wrong.

After a three-game set (whcih starts tonight) with the Braves, the schedule seems to ease up, which could be bad news for the rest of the division.

Take a look at tonight's starters: Joel Pineiro, who is coming off the strong outing against the Mets, going up against Jair Jurrjens, who has had a strong outing against just about everyone.

Pineiro hasn't had a lot of success against Braves' hitters, while Jurrjens has hardly seen Cardinal ones. If everyone's on, though, it should be a pretty good pitching duel.

The CardsClubhouse Bird's Eye View and YNOT are both up, so check them out and enjoy the game!